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First Half Promise Fades Fast As Browns Beaten By Bengals 31-10

It was a result that was expected by just about everyone, but the way that it happened didn’t stop the frustration level of Browns fans who spent their Thursday evening watching their team turn in yet another losing performance against the now 8-0 Bengals.

The result, a 21-point loss to the team that is going to be eventually crowned the AFC North Champions for 2015 barring any sort of miracle from the second place Pittsburgh Steelers, the team the Browns play next on their slate.

Things showed a lot more promise than many thought it would for the now 2-7 Browns in the first 30 minutes of football.

Quarterback Johnny Manziel was smooth with an offense that played well over the first two qua17-0.rters against one of the better defenses in the NFL.

temp110515-CLEvsCIN-4-_0007_A36I3949--nfl_mezz_1280_1024The run game showed signs of life with Isaiah Crowell running hard and gaining yards on two scoring drives. The defense did allow two TD’s in the first half, but kept the Browns in the game as they went into the locker room trailing by just four at 14-10.

Then the second half started, and much like the Titanic, the Browns hopes of a win sank to the bottom of the ocean.

The Bengals did just about anything and everything they wanted to against the Browns that second half, staring with a huge replay reversal on what was first ruled a first down on a Manziel scramble.

Marvin Lewis smartly challenged the call, and the referee reversed the ruling, and instead of it being a first down for the Browns on their 22, it was fourth down, and Andy Lee’s poor punt set the Bengals up at the Browns 49.

“I’ve got to get that first down, on the third down putting us in fourth and inches, it was close,” Manziel said. “That was our first drive coming out of the second half, we had some momentum going into the half.”

It was a game changing call, and one that started the downward spiral for the Browns in their second half disaster that saw the Bengals outscore the Browns 17-0 for the 21-point win.

Overall the Browns were blown away by the much more talented Bengals over the final 30 minutes, as they gained just 32 second half yards and managed just two first downs.

Manziel was able to scramble around and make plays in that first half, throwing the ball well on the run. The Bengals did shift to more zone in the second half, and the success the Browns had in the first half was simply gone.

“He was inconsistent, I thought he did some good things,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said of Manziel.

“In the second half, I don’t know if, especially after we fell behind, he was trying to make too many big plays instead of just taking completions.”

Despite throwing 15-for-33 for 168 yards and a score, it doesn’t sound like Pettine is by any means sold on any sort of future with temp110515-CLEvsCIN-4-_0008_A36I4004--nfl_mezz_1280_1024Manziel under center.

The Browns have 10 days before their next game, a meeting with the Steelers who enter play this weekend second in the AFC North at 4-4.

Pettine did admit that while Manziel clearly didn’t play as well in the second half, it wasn’t all on the second-year QB.

“It’s also a function of, and (the media) is probably sick of hearing me say this, but how well we played around him,” Pettine said. “I don’t think in the second half we played well enough around him for him to play well.”

No one in the second half played well, and the question marks about the franchise going forward will again be at the surface following another loss in what has become another lost season by the lakefront.

Matt Loede has been a part of the Cleveland Sports Media for over 21 years, with experience covering Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, the National Football League and even high school and college events. He has been a part of the Cleveland Indians coverage since the opening of Jacobs/Progressive Field in 1994, and spent two and a half years covering the team for 92.3 The Fan, and covers them daily for Associated Press Radio. You can follow Matt on Twitter HERE.

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